In this guest blog post, we feature Jay in this beautiful African print fabric from Dovetailed London. Jay (aka @theimpatientsewist) was gifted this fabric in exchange for a blog post as part of the Dovetailed London Ambassador Program. Want to read on, get a cup of your favourite drink and enjoy!
I made my first pair of wide-leg African wax print trousers back in the winter of 2021. The fabric had a dark tone but it was so breathable that I wore them all summer too. African print fabric is 100% cotton, pair that with a loose-fitting pattern and you’ve got a warm yet breathable garment to wear all year round. Since 2021 I’m now well overdue a second pair so I really looked forward to this project! It was not without some sewing mishaps along the way but I love the final result. They're loud, cheerful and comfy too!
I fell in love with this particular fabric because there’s just so much going on. If you can’t decide which design you want, why not have them all? I knew I wanted to make either trousers or shorts but I didn’t fully decide until I started playing with pattern placement. I used a self drafted trouser pattern, but I think the Winslow Culottes by Helen's Closet Patterns would work really well in this fabric too. A loose fitting trouser will last longer because there’s less movement against the skin while you wear it. Further, the large flat areas of fabric allow the design of the fabric to shine.
Sewing with macro patterns makes the cutting stage a little tricky, but I actually enjoy that part of the process. It’s like a puzzle, so I laid the fabric out on the floor and started moving the pieces around. The central oval looked really cool, but there was no obvious place to put it on the trousers without the oval getting chopped up. I opted for using the edges of the fabric and kept the asymmetry in the fabric design, i.e. I cut the left and right front pieces next to each other on the fabric.
It wouldn’t be me making trousers without adding in pockets. I always cut the pocket pieces last so I can squeeze them out of the fabric scraps. This left me with a nice strip of fabric from the middle (including the oval) that I’m thinking of adding to the back of a jacket.
The assembly of the trousers started quite smoothly but after the first fitting I realised that I wanted a partial lining. Opacity wasn’t the issue - the pattern is dark enough - but given this is a “soft” African print fabric, I felt that a partial lining would make the garment last longer. I chose a brown linen to keep the trousers breathable, and lined the trousers until I got a roughly 10 cm inseam. To keep the lining in place, I stitched-in-the-ditch on the inseam and side seams.
The waistband caused me a few fitting headaches after the front pieces needed to be taken in a bit. The waistband is curved and if I were a sensible, patient sewist, I would have altered the pattern and recut my waistband pieces. Instead I tried to make the original pieces work, which required a few head-scratching alterations. One of the changes was a gentle V- shape on the back of the waistband, which I actually think looks better than what I had before! Was I rewarded for my impatience?
Want to make something gorgeous on this fabric? Shop here.
Want to sew with African fabric? Shop here.
Looking for a range of sewing patterns designed specifically with African wax print fabric in mind, shop here.
Want to buy ready-made in a selection of Dovetailed garments? Shop ready made here.
Want to make your own with a little help? Shop workshops here.